Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Kocurek excited for return of Nick Bosa, Dee Ford after 49ers pass rushers reached ‘lowest of lows’

Sep 9, 2021 at 9:17 AM--

It has been a rigorous offseason for San Francisco 49ers pass rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. Both exited last season early due to injuries. First, a back injury sidelined Ford after Week 1. Then, during Week 2, Bosa exited after suffering a torn ACL on that awful MetLife Stadium field.

What followed were two hellacious comebacks. But, the good news is that the end is in sight. Bosa and Ford will retake the field when the Niners open their season against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday.

Bosa showed off videos during his rehab, and the 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year looked ahead of schedule during the process. Bosa's coaches never questioned the defensive end's work ethic. They know the pass rusher can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.

"The rehab that he had to do on his knee was mapped out through our trainers and Kyle (Shanahan) and the people that he was doing the work with," defensive line coach Kris Kocurek told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco during the latest 49ers Talk podcast. "Nick is a very regimented guy. He's a very goal-oriented person. When he has landmarks or milestones that he wants to accomplish, usually, he's ahead of schedule 99.9 percent of the time on everything that he sets out to do."

Kocurek doesn't believe many could return from such an injury looking like Bosa does right now—perhaps even better than that impressive rookie campaign in 2019. The defender looks stronger, bigger, and faster. That's bad news for opposing quarterbacks.

"I'm really, really excited for him, more so because he put in all this work last year and had it taken away after a game and a quarter, or whatever," Kocurek said, "and hit rock bottom with an injury like that, that early in the season, with the amount of work that you put in getting to that point in the season, and having it taken away in the blink of an eye. And then to have to start it all over, the process, going from the lowest of the lows to getting back into the rehab process and the strength building and all that."

Bosa was excited each time he reached a milestone during his comeback. Kocurek saw that. That excitement grew throughout the offseason. It grew during OTAs. It grew as he worked during the team's break. And it grew during training camp.

"I'm just excited to get him back, let him get back out on that field, and bear the fruits of his labor," Kocurek added.

Then you have Ford. Some weren't even sure if the veteran pass rusher would ever play again. Back injuries are a different beast to overcome and could result in long-term issues if not treated properly. That's why there was no rush to get Ford back on the field last season.

Earlier this offseason, Ford said retirement never entered his mind. He would return. Like Bosa, that meant a strict offseason regiment. Ford remained at the 49ers' facilities after others scattered at the start of the offseason.

"[I just saw him] go through the lowest of lows, the question marks, and all that," Kocurek said. "And now, to see him come out on the other end of it, and the work that he's put in, just seeing the old Dee walking around with a smile on his face, eager to get back out there rather than the guy that I saw at times last year, not knowing, uncertain about the future, it's just great to have him back, and moving the way he's moving.

"And [I'm] really excited to have both of them back. They both put in an extreme, extreme amount of work to get where we're at, right here, right now."

You can listen to the entire interview with Kocurek below.

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